NFPA 1403, Part 4: Understanding the different types of structures for live fire training

In the previous three posts on NFPA 1403 (Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions), I discussed some basic requirements of participating in live fire training. I then detailed the different instructor/staff positions that are required when conducting a live fire evolution. Next, I touched on some of the basic considerations to conduct live fire training. Today, I will look at the types of structures that live fire training can occur in. You basically have "acquired structures" vs. "fixed facility-type structures" with a special carve out for live fire props. Here are a few key points to consider:

1) Acquired Structures: As you may have guessed, using a true acquired structure requires a significant amount of planning and preparation. There are a number of permits required (this is dictated by the local, state and federal government). The issue of ownership must be clearly determined. Another key preliminary matter is insurance - you must be able to show that the building is no longer insured (which makes sense - otherwise it could be used as a way to destroy a property and collect insurance proceeds). All of this is just the tip of the ice burg. There are a number of guidelines that detail how to make the physical structure "safe" including inspections, repairs and ultimately a caveat that if the structure cannot meet the safety requirements, it cannot be used.

2) Gas-Fired Live Fire Training Structures and Non-Gas-Fired Live Fire Training Structures (your "fixed facilities"): These are your "Class A" and "Class B" burn buildings. While there are a few differences between them, the main guidance is the same. The guidelines largely focus on doing routine inspections and maintenance on the structures. This includes inspections by a licensed professional engineer a minimum of every 5 years for a Class A and every 10 years for a Class B structure.

3) Gas-Fed Props: There is a separate category for the live fire props that are used in the open (not within a structure). The guidance is minimal and can be largely summed up to "use them as they are intended and for what they are intended" and inspect/maintain them.

This is the fourth of a four-part series taking a very high level look at NFPA 1403. It is not intended to be all-encompassing but meant to make you think when you are engaged in live fire training. If you need specific guidance, please get in touch with your company's legal counsel or reach out to me at mvalocchi@valocchilaw.com or by phone at (484) 614-7407.

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